While messaging on MySpace or blogging may seem like a private action, the information posted can be accessed publicly. In fact, the concept of privacy is being challenged by the Internet. Personal profiles, emails, and photos become part of the public domain. Because of online indiscretions, people are losing jobs, schools are suspending students, and insurance companies are suing clients. This is about to change we are looking at a more decentralized social media platforms in the near future with the help of dWeb Guide.
When people enter personal information on sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Classmates, they don’t realize that they are providing a peephole into their lives. Students have been suspended from school and have had college offers rescinded due to posting comments about partying or photos of themselves holding a beer can. Public schools regulate what teachers post on their personal sites, expecting teachers to maintain an ethical standard.
In their article “Social-networking sites viewed by admissions officers,” Rubin and Fitzsimmons report on a survey by Kaplan, Inc., an education services company, which shows that 10 percent of college admissions officers are checking the Facebook and MySpace pages of high-schoolers.
According to Careerbuilders.com, 22 percent of employers view a prospective employee’s profiles on social-networking sites when they do background checks. What people post affects whether or not they are hired. And it can also get them fired from an existing job. Key concerns include evidence of drug and alcohol use, promiscuous behavior, or disrespect toward an employer or coworkers.
Abuse of privacy extends from insurance companies searching social-networking sites to garner information against clients to pedophiles using the sites to lure unsuspecting teenagers.
Access to Information via Search Engines
It may seem interesting to Google a person’s name to see what comes up. However, when an employer does so and finds information about a job candidate who recently filed for bankruptcy, it becomes a serious issue. Because of online posting of public records, an Internet search can pull up financial data, family histories, and divorce and criminal records.
“Today’s (job) application is not just what you send … but whatever they can Google about you,” according to Jeff Olson, head of research for Kaplan. And hackers use this information to wreak havoc on people’s lives, surfing the Net rather than rummaging through garbage cans to commit privacy theft and similar crimes.
Protect Online Privacy
Stanton McCanlish provides helpful information in his article “EFF’s Top 12 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy.” His tips include the following:
- Use cookie management software to prevent cookies from being sent to third parties.
- Make sure a connection is encrypted before disclosing sensitive personal information.
- Don’t reply to spammers.
Most importantly, people must watch what they post, including photos, content, and links. If information is too private to post on a billboard, it shouldn’t be on the Internet. Follow the adage better safe than sorry: if something could cause embarrassment or offense, leave it out.